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Active or Passive

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by line1, Dec 19, 2003.

  1. For a p-bass are active or passive pickups better for playing punk rock. What are the ups and downs?:bassist:
  2. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    There's no difference in sound. Or at least, there shouldn't be.

    There are three big advantages to active electronics:

    1. Low impedance output, therefore you can drive very long cables with minimal hum and noise and signal loss.

    2. You can "boost" a range of frequencies, which you can't do (easily) with passive tone controls.

    3. A properly designed onboard active preamp will virtually eliminate any hum and noise problems you may be having with your pickups. There's a big caveat to this one, 'cause 90% of the COTS preamps aren't "properly designed". Ping me if you want more information on this.

    Other than that, it's all in your ear. Whatever gives you the sound you want, that's what you should use. Passive or active, doesn't matter. If it's passive and you want to go active, you can always design a preamp that will work, and probably build it yourself for less than 10 bucks in parts.
  3. I would recommend passive if you play punk or rock, the sound are more basic and primitive,
    But tjek it out and se what you like, its always a matter of personal taste
  4. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Hey sorry if this is a common question, I figured I'd ask it in another active pickups thread... how do you know when your batteries die in a active bass. I just bought one and I know nothing about active pickups... they sound pretty nice though, very powerful.
  5. Ívar Þórólfsson

    Ívar Þórólfsson Mmmmmm... Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    Kopavogur, Iceland
    That should not escape your attention...

    The sound gets distorted, then it is only a matter of time until there is no output at all.

    One of the first thing that is recommended if people complain about sound problems with active basses is to change the battery.

    Also, since you are new to active basses, always unplug it when you are not playing. When it is plugged, it drains the battery.

    Have fun in the active world! :)
  6. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    Ooops, forgot that I posted here :p

    Thanks for the advice.

    *goes over and unplugs bass*

    Thanks a lot!

    What's the average life span on a battery?
  7. it really depends on the bass and how often you use it, but mine last around six months or so.
  8. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    For me, on average 2 hours a day, sometimes more sometimes less.
  9. Ívar Þórólfsson

    Ívar Þórólfsson Mmmmmm... Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    Kopavogur, Iceland
    You just have to find out. There really is no special rule on how long the batteries should last. It is different amongst different brands of basses.

    For example my Washburn had the same battery in it for one year.
  10. richardwil


    Apr 11, 2005
    Hi all,
    I'm new to the site, so sorry if this is in the wrong place, but I'm having a bit of a problem with my Warwick corvette SE. Its my first acive bass and I've had it about a year. Our band recently recorded a rehearsal through our PA. The bass was plugged direct into the PA via line out. ON playback we noticed what we thought was an extra snare drum or click track. This turned out to be all the clicks, slides, and general finger noise from my bass playing. The notes were there too, nice and rounded, but spoilt by this ticking and tapping.
    We gigged for the first time last week and I noticed that whenever I played anything on the low E the amp produced the most awful farty noise. admittedly the amp was not mine, but it was a mesa boogie head ( or so I am told ) and laney 4 by 10 cab.
    Our guitarist reckons the problem is down to me resting my thumb on the top edge of the pickup when I play, but I am very dubious about this. I have always done this and never had a problem before. Could it just be that an active bass doesn't suit my rather tappy fingering style?
    any thoughts gratefully received
  11. My EDA had a decent battery in it for a year and a half (the one that was in it when i got it from the shop died after about 2 months, but it was often left plugged in, i didnt know that drained)

    I changed it recently, didnt want to push my luck

    I'd say go with actives, but it doesnt really matter all that much *hides*
  12. richardwil


    Apr 11, 2005
    Thanks for the tips! I went out and bought some heavy guage strings and also replaced the battery ( thanks for that tip also ) it wasn't dead, but failed the time honoured "tongue test" !
    Very interesting what was said re tehnique...never thought of my technique as being below par before. its true that I do tend to use the tips of my fingers rather than the pads, but have always like the tonal quality its given. I suppose its a bit of a John Entwhistle thing really, but I do play lots of songs with lots of top ( Rush in other words! ) and have always actively gone after a very piercing ringing sound. Its just that my new band needs grind and bottom and I guess I'm just not used to producing that sound, or playing in that style. I won't give up on the active bass just yet! One thing I have tried is playing with the neck much more vertical ( think Rob Trujillo from Metallica ! ) and that does kind of prevcent any kind of finger tapping as you cant help but pluck in that position - even if you look a bit of a dork..Or at least I do playing Pink's "just like a pill" - not quite Sad but true!!!!
  13. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    in my experience there is definetly a difference in the characteristics of tone put out by actives and passives just as there's are difference in their design. In general actives have a refined, filtered, hi-fi quality while passives the opposite. I've had and have a bunch of both and you can get some raw passive like tone from some actives on some settings.

    The major advantage to actives is they're typically noise free (some exception with heavily boosted trebles - but that is basically unavoidable, and not a typical application) and the major disadavantage is the limitation of wiring options, the additional battery(s) (and space required), the loss of a passive option, and no tone without a battery.

    At any rate, probably not going to matter for any headbanger, bring down the roof style.
  14. Hi All i have a 1983 p bass with an active EMG i seem to be having trouble getting a good sound, i have notices when i plug into the amp if the volume is only up a tiny bit i can hear distortion but when you turn it up its ok and i am wondering if this is affectine the sound? Also its just the pick up with the battery no preamp.

    The other thing is the input jack on the bass is a bit susupect if you move the cord around it crackles like there is a loose wire or something. Also the volume pot is very noisy. I have been rehearsing in a "padded cell" it it is so hard to get a good sound i'm using a GK backline 600 with an eden 2x12 cab.

    SO i'm not too sure if its just the room or the pickup?

    Any thoughts welcome.
  15. luke3m3


    Apr 17, 2007
    Lexington Ky
    I think you should go active, and put an active/passive switch,or push/pull pot feature in the mix, thus giving you the best of both worlds. :D you'll love it!
  16. SbassJon


    Nov 25, 2007
    The bass:
    basses are big slabs o wood and metal and composites. This is what will make the sound of your instrument. The type of pickup will listen in as much of the vibrational spectrum the materials can make the strings produce.

    Technique is as much yours as your own signature. You can sound like them or/and you, provided you know how to. P and J Basses are a standard noises. Uncompromisable personality comes out of this. If your Steve Harris or Jaco Pastorious, theyre in there and making your signature is as much about finding those strings Semore Duncans or Humbuckers etc...

    Initially seen as a weakness for allot of users, there are pros like a strong warm sound that amps love. Heavy playing is OK, and no batterys. You hear the instrument's materials more. Raw sound. Can be weak and pasty for low end spec basses.

    Your playing has to be tight honed and finger noises like over pumped mutes are like bass drums and fret buzz is really audible. Clarity and control gained from a wider range drawn from the pickups, not so much the materials. One could bolt a bunch of aluminium together with strings and get active pups on, wahay!
    Signal can make an engineers life a bi too crap if your a bass player who doesnt know your playing the snare too.

    Its up to you. Jaco was pretty zen, passave no frets, what a sound. Mark King super active mains supply active processor mania pornographic glistning sound, wowness. If you got a cheap weak bass and you want beef on a budget, go active :D, Sting has a telecastor bass, one pup vol tone plug, monstrosity of sound = AMPS :eek:
  17. Doc Labyrinth

    Doc Labyrinth

    Nov 21, 2007
    New Jersey
    Mr. Wiggles the Worm
    all of the best punk bands use p-basses with passive pickups (dee dee ramone, paul simonon, klaus flouride, the dude from black flag before he got that lucite jobbie).
  18. ecufunk


    Nov 19, 2007
    the two of them are great...i like pasives....i think is because i love vintage sound, i preffer to add a preamp (J+P)
  19. Doc Labyrinth

    Doc Labyrinth

    Nov 21, 2007
    New Jersey
    Mr. Wiggles the Worm

    who is this greatest and most influential punk band you speak of? i got my start in a punk band (as a guitar player) and the greatest and most influential punk bands for me were the ramones, the clash, the dead kennedys, and black flag. and none of those bassist are incredible, but let's not forget, this is punk music we're talking about. and i personally think paul simonon has some of the best basslines punk has ever seen (though, calling the clash a punk band can be debated). also, i was referring to the best punk bands, not bassists, and aside from that, we're talking tone here.

    edit: ahh, bad brains, definitely a good band.
  20. SbassJon


    Nov 25, 2007
    Passive is the best and most versatile cos you cant really remove the clinical engineered sound out of the active al the time butyuh can put zap into an amp. Passive but with good lectrix.
    Those old good basses are usually passive xcept elembic. they just went nuts. 12 volts maind fed, but f**k what a sound. you can relax a bit with active, but thats trikky when yur bouncing off the drums and cabs. Jazz/Desk Mixing = active. The rest, raw flesh and magnets!!

    Endwistle had it nailed through 122 drivers too for a stronger mid, and he hit harmonics all the time. Dub Ska and the like of Sly And Robby, weellll shoot me and i wont care those guys nailed it. I think even the Primus dude was passive. Slayer, DOA and Napalm were active for a more extreme. Are Wal passive? Were Stingrays?